Guest post today from my friend and blogger Ryan Latham. I hate when kids don’t show up for stuff. it makes me feel bad but it also makes me think “What could I have donee better?” That is where Ryan comes from today. We can all make our events a little better, if we thought like a parent, made our stuff more easy to find, and planned our stuff out better. Check it out and tell us what you think. 

Think like a parent:

  • How much will youth ministry cost for my student(s) to be involved?
  • When should our family plan vacation so we don’t miss YM events?
  • Parents are used to how the school districts communicate.  Schools are very much the same every year and the calendars are
  • published on the school and/or district websites (easily found) a year in advance.
  • As a parent of four kids, if they come home and say that they have a YM event that costs $50 each and it is this weekend, the answer is “no, we can’t afford that.”  If we know about it ahead of time we can plan and prepare and the answer is “yes.”
  • The youth ministry is not the only thing that kids are involved in.  Parents are trying to juggle school, church, sports, family, and other schedules all at once.
  • Most parents need to turn in vacation time 6-12 months ahead of time.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”  Alan Lakein

12 months loose: At this point you should have all of your major events on the calendar.  You may not have all of the details but you can write down “missions trip” even if you don’t know where it is at this point. Note: It is vital that you have the school district(s) calendar(s) in front of you while you plan. Don’t unknowingly plan a big event on the night of the high school prom and wonder why people don’t show up. It is also helpful if you can try to think through estimated prices for your major events.  It may be that students want to be there but it is just too expensive for them.  You can also see if your calendar is too full.  Maybe you have too many events back to back, or maybe you don’t have enough events.  Legendary youth pastor Jeanne Mayo says that often we lose newly saved students because they don’t have anything to do in the church.  She says, “He who wins is the one who spends the most time.” Turn this calendar in to your supervisor for approval.  This will help the church know when youth ministry events are and hopefully avoid your event being canceled because you didn’t get it approved ahead of time.

  • Sermon ideas
  • Big group of leaders help with ideas
  • Let’s talk about dating in February for four weeks with a big event around Valentine’s Day.

For information about how to lead a planning retreat with your team please read my post, “leading a summer review retreat.”

6 months outlined: For all your major events you should now have planning meetings set up, due dates, fundraisers, and promotional material planned.  This is also a good time to start assigning roles to your key volunteers.

  • Sermon topics
  • A medium group of leaders help with topics
  • February 5,12,19,26 we will talk about “Dating Without Mating” and on Feb 12th we will do “the dating game” illustration.

6 weeks detailed: You will want to plan which nights need creative elements and what type at this point. I know that most of us are writing sermons the night before we speak, but the more detail we can give our team ahead of time the more they can help find resources and material for our late night planning.

  • Sermon outlines
  • A small group helps with sermons
  • Dating Without Mating
    • Feb. 5, “Are you dateable?”
    • Feb. 12, “When healthy + healthy = unhealthy”
    • Feb. 19, “What Lady Gaga didn’t tell you.”
    • Feb. 26, “What happens when IT happens.”

With this much information you and your team can find dramas and other creative elements.

Evernote/Google Drive: These are great tools to help get your team involved in the creative process.  Read my post to help maximize your team’s involvement. [] Make your calendar information easy to find: We live in a world where if people can’t find your calendar within five minutes and three clicks it doesn’t exist.  We must make sure that our online information is easy to find and UP TO DATE!  I have often tried to find information about a YM only to find that their calendar is six to twelve months outdated.

“Frustrated people don’t usually ask for help; they just stop trying.” – Aaron Helman of

What is your plan or strategy to get more kids to show up for your events this fall?

What is your greatest frustration about failed events or about yourself in the planning of those events?

Don’t miss our whole week of Summer School for Youth Workers as we discuss Fall Planning. Check out yesterdays “class” HERE

Spread the word. Share this post!


  1. I’ve done 90% of the suggestions in this post. I still have the majority of my no-shows in the “we have something better to do” column. Despite having things on the calendar months in advance, we get bumped for vacations, sports camps, cheer camps, scout camps, and even other church camps our group doesn’t attend. At the end of the day it comes down to priorities on the parts of the parents. Good post, though. But sometimes great planning doesn’t trump what parents value most.

Comments are closed.